Waterlogged financial books were some of the only items recovered by owners of Salon Image after a late night fire Sept. 17.
The blaze completely destroyed the interior of the Depot Street building, where the business had been located.
As the pages of those books dry off and come unstuck, co-owner Jaime Leiby is keeping the business going in a space newly vacated by Hawleywood Salon, 118 Dept St.
The process has been helped along by Melissa Hawley, former owner of Hawleywood Salon, who’s agreed to pay one more month’s rent on the building. Stacey and Bob Fortney, owners of the nearby Fort’s Old Town Tavern on West Herrick Avenue, will eventually take over ownership of Salon Image’s new home.
Chairs and a nail desk have been donated by Tangles and Tans of Spencer, 103 North Main St.
“A couple of the girls who’ve worked at Hawleywood had contacted us to see if we were hiring, so we knew it was open,” said Leiby. “The morning after the fire we were sitting in Fort’s having breakfast and thinking to ourselves, ‘What do we do now?’ The thought crossed my mind about Hawleywood and Stacey Fortney told me, ‘We’re buying that.’ They and Melissa have really worked together to help us out and it’s awesome.”
Leiby, along with two other stylists and a nail technician, take roughly 500 clients with them to the new location.
She described what it was like to receive word of the arson that destroyed Salon Image and an adjacent bird seed factory.
“I was thinking a little fire when I first heard,” Leiby said. “Nope. As soon as we saw the flames we just knew it was gone. All of it was gone. It was rough. We’ve been co-owners from the get-go. The support we’ve received from this community is everything.”
Leiby, Tina Norton, and Melanie Oneal have owned the business for 12 years.
“I felt sick,” said secretary Sue Younglas. “It was all so overwhelming. Thank God it was only a week that we had to cancel appointments.”
In the hours immediately following the fire, Leiby had messages on her voicemail from other area salon owners offering aid. “That was when I kind of took a breath and said, ‘Whew. We’re going to be OK,”’ she said.
She and Younglas both had compliments for police, fire, and other safety workers who responded to the blaze.
“(Police chief Tim) Barfield walked up to me, shook my hand, introduced himself, and said, ‘I’m so sorry and I promise you I’m not stopping until I find out who did this,”’ said Leiby.
“The fire department and the police department have just been awesome,” said Younglas. “They let us go in and check to see if our books were intact as soon as it was safe.”
Whether Salon Image will stay in its new location or for how long have not determined. The owners could rebuild on the old site or eventually find a different home.
The business will be closed Sundays and Mondays, open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Saturday.
“We’re just trying to get everything figured out at this point,” Leiby said. “This place is a little smaller than we’re used to and we did lose a tanning bed in the fire. That probably couldn’t even fit in here. We just don’t know what’s going to happen. We just want to get our clients back on schedule and go from there.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.